The state of Jalisco is often referred to as Mexico's heartland. This is the region responsible for tequila, Mariachi music, and the Tapatio culture. It also contains the next largest Mexican city after the capital, which is Guadalajara. Jalisco is divided into 125 municipalities and is one of the most important states in Mexico because of its natural resources as well as its history. Many of the characteristic traits of Mexican culture, particularly outside Mexico City, are originally from Jalisco, such as mariachi, ranchera music, birria, tequila, jaripeo, etc., hence the state's motto: "Jalisco es México." Economically, it is ranked third in the country, with industries centered in the Guadalajara metropolitan area, the second largest metropolitan area in Mexico. The state is home to two significant indigenous populations, the Huichols and the Nahuas. There is also a significant foreign population, mostly retirees from the United States and Canada, living in the Lake Chapala and Puerto Vallarta areas.




Jalisco is a very irregularly shaped state, bordered on one side by the Pacific Ocean. The states which border on Jalisco are: Nayarit, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Colima, and Michoacan. Jalisco contains some worthwhile geographic wonders, including a magnificent coastline south of the city of Puerto Vallarta, the Huentitán Canyon to the north of Guadalajara, and Lake Chapala, the largest freshwater lake in Mexico.





Guadalajara is the largest city in Jalisco and the second largest city in Mexico, with a metropolitan area population of over 4 million people. It is composed of several municipalities which have grown together, the largest of which are Guadalajara itself, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, Tlajomulco, El Salto, and Zapopan. The city rests at an elevation of about 1,650 metres.

Puerto Vallarta

Long a popular vacation destination for Jalisco residents and foreigners alike, Puerto Vallarta is a built-up city with many beach hotels and resorts. The municipality is home to approximately 200,000 people.

Other municipalities

Other cities in Jalisco include Ciudad Guzman, Tequila, Ameca, Tala, and Chapala. These are all relatively small municipalities.



Sights and Activities


There are many beaches worthy of a visit in Jalisco. Puerto Vallarta is very near the Jalisco-Nayarit border. South from here, the coastline is rocky and lined with inlets and points. Tenacatita is a well-known, undeveloped Jalisco beach which has some of the best snorkeling in Jalisco over a nearshore reef. Barra de Navidad is a vibrant Mexican town on the coast at the southern border of Jalisco with Colima. Chamela, La Manzanilla, and Melaque are other popular beach spots.

Archeological Sites

The Guachimontones in the town of Teuchitlán have been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. These are Pre-Colombian structures erected in round, stepped pyramid form.

The Ixtepete archaeological site in Zapopan is one of the only remaining Pre-Hispanic ruins within the Guadalajara metropolitan area.

Natural Sights

The Huentitán Canyon to the north of Guadalajara can be viewed from several locations in Guadalajara, either in the colonia (district) of Huentitán or from the Parque Mirador. A path in Huentitán leads down to the bottom of the canyon.

Lake Chapala is the largest freshwater lake in Mexico, and can be viewed from the town of Chapala. Several other small towns line the lake, and some house hotels and resorts. Boats can be rented for excursions on the lake.

The area near the town of Tequila holds several active and extinct volcanos, including the Tequila volcano, some of which can be hiked up.

Cultural Sights

The downtown areas of Guadalajara, Zapopan, and Tlaquepaque all show examples of colonial architecture. Tlaquepaque and Tonala are centers for artisan work including ceramics, iron-work, and textiles. In addition, a museum at the Basilica of Zapopan shows off indigenous art of the region, called Huichol. Huichol people generally reside in the Jaliscan countryside, many in the northern fingers of the state. The city of Tequila houses several distilleries, many of which can be visited, including that of Jose Cuervo.



Events and Festivals

Most of the fiestas of the state of Jalisco are related to the anniversaries of the foundation of municipalities, the celebration of local Roman Catholic patron saints or exhibitions of the most popular produce of the particular region. The majority are observed at the local level and, given that the greater part of the municipalities have few inhabitants, the festivals can be a bit austere


Day of the Dead

Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexico where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.

Other Events and Festivals

  • Grito de la Independencia - September 15th is Mexican Independence Day! A massive celebration involving plenty of singing, dancing and fireworks takes place in the Zócalo. Everyone here awaits an appearance from Mexico's president who rings a bell from a central balcony of the Palacio Nacional overlooking the Zócalo. The president then shouts out the Grito de Dolores, or the Cry of Dolores which was Father Hidalgo's famous call to arms against Spanish rule in 181o.
  • Dia de la Candelaria. Candlemas is held February 2nd and commemorates Jesus being introduced into the temple 40 days after his birth. This nationwide celebration sees many different ways of celebrating and many towns in Jalisco State hold processions, bullfights and dances. Of course, plenty of delicious, traditional foods are served during Dia de la Candelaria as well.
  • Carnaval is held in late February or early March throughout Jalisco State and all of Mexico. This big party is meant to celebrate the 40 day penance of Lent. Carnaval always takes place during the week or so prior to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Sunday. Mexicans celebrate this holiday with fireworks, food, dancing, parades, dancing and drinking.
  • Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a huge celebration which starts on Palm Sunday. This is a very popular time for Mexicans to take a short break; as a result, it seems most of the country is on the move, with buses and hotels often booked out. As for the celebration of Semana Santa, expect colorful processions and many masses at churches everywhere.
  • Día de Nuestra Seňora de Guadalupe, or Day of our Lady of Guadalupe, is held December 12th. There is a week-long build up to this religious celebration in honour of the Virgin who appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego in the year 1531. Since then, the Lady of Guadalupe has been Mexico's religious patron and her veneration is very significant. It is traditional for young boys to be dressed as a Juan Diego and for young girls to be dressed in indigenous garb and brought to a special mass, held at many churches throughout the country.
  • New Year's Eve. Mexicans celebrate New Year's Eve or locally known as Año Nuevo, by downing a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. Mexican families decorate homes and parties, during New Year's, with colors such as red, to encourage an overall improvement of lifestyle and love, yellow to encourage blessings of improved employment conditions, green to improve financial circumstances and white to improved health. Mexican sweet bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden in the dough. When the bread is served, the recipient whose slice contains the coin or charm is believed to be blessed with good luck in the new year. One can expect a lot of firecrackers, fireworks and sparklers being fired. At midnight there is a lot of noise and everyone shouts: "Feliz año nuevo!" People embrace, make noise, set off firecrackers, and sing Auld Lang Syne.
  • Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. The victory of the smaller Mexican force against a larger French force was a boost to morale for the Mexicans. A year after the battle, a larger French force defeated Zaragoza at the Second Battle of Puebla, and Mexico City soon fell to the invaders.




Most of the state has a temperate climate with humid summers which are tropical. There is a distinct rainy season from June to October. The climate can be divided into 29 different zones from hot to cold and from very dry to semi moist. In most of the state, most of the rain falls between June and August.

The coastal area receives the most precipitation and has the warmest temperatures, at an average of between 22 °C and 26 °C and an average precipitation of about 2,000 mm annually. In the north and northwest, a dry climate predominates with average temperatures of between 10 °C and 18 °C, and average annual precipitation between 300 and 1,000mm. The center of the state has three different climates, but all are mostly temperate with an average temperature of 19 °C and an average rainfall of between 700 and 1,000mm. The northeastern corner and coastal plains of Tomatlán are the driest areas with less than 500mm annually. The Los Altos region has a number of microclimates due to the rugged terrain. The area is mostly dry with an average temperature of 18 °C except in the north, where it fluctuates between 18 °C and 22 °C. In the highlands, the average temperature is less than 18 °C.

In various parts of the state there are areas with a semi-moist, temperate climate, some with average temperatures of between 10 °C and 18 °C and others of between 18 °C and 22 °C.

In the highlands of the Sierra de Manantlán, Cacola, Cuale and Mascota near the coastal plains there is the most rainfall reaching 1,600mm per year. In the highlands, the average temperature is less than 18 °C.



Getting There

By Plane

Guadalajara International Airport (GDL) functions as the main gateway of the city. It has quite a few flights to other Mexican cities and to cities mainly in the rest of North America. These include Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Fresno, Las Vegas, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, New York and Phoenix.
Domestic destinations are Mexico City, Cancun, Tijuana, Monterrey, San José del Cabo, Mexicali, Hermosillo, La Paz, Chihuahua, Ciudad Juarez, Mazatlan, Mérida, Puerto Vallarta, Veracruz, Oaxaca, among a few other places.
To add, there are also flights to and from Panama City.

From Puerto Vallarta, Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) has numerous flights. Some of the main cities served include Mexico City, New York, Guadalajara, Calgary, Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Detroit, Salt Lake City, Denver and Phoenix.

By Bus

Buses of all classes enter into Jalisco from neighboring states and beyond. First and second class buses serve the routes from further afield, while simpler buses move about the state on lesser roads serving the smaller villages and ejidos.

For an overview of schedules and connections, check thebusschedule.com. Also check out rome2rio.com.



Getting Around

By Bus

Every city and town in Jalisco has bus service from points within the state and beyond. First and second class buses traverse every major road and almost all secondary roads. Local bus service (often aboard old school buses) pick up the slack and serve even the smallest village. Buses are frequent and reservations are not needed; just show up at the bus station and purchase your onward ticket or, especially in smaller villages, simply flag the bus down en route. The holidays of Christmas and especially Easter see much of Mexico on the move - consider planning your bus travel ahead of time during these holidays.

For an overview of schedules and connections, check thebusschedule.com. Also check out rome2rio.com.




The pre-Hispanic cuisine of the state features: fish from the various lakes, birds including wild turkey, often eaten with salsas made from a wide variety of ground or crushed chili peppers. The Spanish introduced European staples of bread, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, dairy products, rice and various fruits and vegetables. The European settlers quickly adopted local foodstuffs such as chili peppers and tomatoes to create hybrid dishes such as barbacoa and puchero. Accepting corn as a staple, the Spanish created today's enchiladas, quesadillas and gorditas. They also adopted pre-Hispanic tamales, but these were significantly altered with the addition of large quantities of lard. Tonalá is said to be the origin of pozole, and it is claimed that the local Tonaltecas originally prepared it with human flesh as religious rite.

Classic dishes for the area include local versions of pozole, sopitos, menudo, guacamole, cuachala, birria, pollo a la valenciana and tortas ahogadas. Birria is a meat stew made with roasted chili peppers, spices and with either goat, mutton or beef. Tortas ahogadas are pork sandwiches on French rolls which are covered in a tomato and chili pepper sauce. Common street foods include sopes, tacos, enchiladas tapitíos. Tapalpa is known for its Borrego al pastor (grilled mutton); Cocul and Ciudad Guzmán are known for birria; the Lake Chapala area is known for a dish called charales and Guadalajara is known for tortas ahogadas. Sweets include alfajor, squash seeds with honey, coconut candies, buñuelos and fruits conserved in syrup. Drinks include tequila, aquamiel, pulque, tejuino and fruit drinks. Raicilla is a drink made along the coast. Tuba is made in Autlán de Navarro. Rompope is made in Sayula and Tapalpa and tejuino is most common in the center of the state.

Along the coast, seafood is prominent. Some popular seafood preparations include shrimp breaded with coconut, and rollo del mar, which is a fish fillet stuffed with chopped shrimp and octopus, rolled and sometimes wrapped in bacon and covered in either a chili pepper or almond sauce.Puerto Vallarta has become a gourmet dining attraction as the site of the Mexican Gastronomy Fair held each November. It was a fishing village before a tourist destination and the simple grilled fish dish called 'pescado zarandeado' is still popular.

  • Tacos are by far the most prevalent food in Mexico and come in many varieties and regional variances. Here, tacos are more often served on corn tortillas instead of wheat. Flour tortillas are the norm in the northern states of Mexico. Beef is also the meat of choice for tacos here,
  • Mollete is an open faced sandwich consisting of a bolillo roll smothered in refried beans and melted cheese.
  • Carnitas are slow braised meats usually bought by weight. These often come with tortillas to wrap the meat in. Any meats cooked in this fashion are always tender and very rich in flavor.
  • Cabuche is the flower from the biznaga cactus. this edible flower is a delicacy in San Luis Potosi state. There are many dishes this flower can go into and many ways to prepare it on it's own.
  • Chiles en Nogada - this dish is meant to represent the Mexican flag's 3 colors; red, white and green. The red portion of this dish is a garnish of pomegranate seeds, the white from a cream sauce and the green from poblano chili pepper.
  • Huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on organic corn ears due to the lack of anti fungal chemicals introduced to the crop. When cooked and added to certain dishes huitlacoche is very earthy in flavor.
  • Pozole - Choose either red or green pozole. This corn and chile based soup is very tasty and is served at many comedors and loncherias in marketplaces throughout Mexico.
  • Rosti-Pollo - Roast chicken is a hugely popular meal in Mexico and represents an astounding value for travelers on a budget. Order a whole, or half chicken. Each order comes with french fries, unlimited tortillas and salsa.
  • Birria Stew - Birria is typically goat meat but many establishments prepare it with beef. The broth is a tomato and chili based one although it is not too spicy. Fresh diced onions and cilantro always accompany birria stew as a garnish. Of course, unlimited corn tortillas are served with each bowl.




Drinks include tequila, aquamiel, pulque, tejuino and fruit drinks. Raicilla is a drink made along the coast. Tuba is made in Autlán de Navarro. Rompope is made in Sayula and Tapalpa and tejuino is most common in the center of the state.


Mass produced Mexican beers tend to be a bit less sweet than their American counterparts. All in all, Mexican beers are quite good and go very well with Mexican food. Microbrews are starting to pop up in big cities and certain varieties are distributed further afield. Many bars catering to a hip clientele will feature imported beers from throughout the world

Montejo, Leon, Victoria, Superior, Carta Blanca and Estrella are national brands that can be difficult to find at times depending on where you are in Mexico. Lately, both Tecate and Indio brands have become the most widely distributed beers next to Corona. Many of the beers mentioned are brewed by Mexico's brewery powerhouses - Modelo and Cuauhtemoc.

One of the traditions in Mexico is to add lime to beer, adding a pleasant acidity. Another popular way to drink beer in Mexico is to mix it with lime, tomato juice, spices and assorted chili-based sauces. This drink is known as a Michelada and is very popular in hotter climates throughout Mexico and actually makes for a very refreshing concoction.


Tequila is the signature firewater of Mexico and nearly all of it hails from the state of Jalisco. Here, small agave plantations and larger haciendas churn out a staggering number of brands. Of those brands, there 5 varieties of tequila:

  • Oro, or gold is possibly the poorest quality of the lot. That gold color this variety is known for is artificial and this tequila really burns the throat. It is best used in cocktails and margaritas.
  • Plata is also known as Blanco and represents the next lowest quality of the 5 varieties but tastes better than the Oro variety. This is unaged and the flavor is much less complex, making it suitable as a mixer rather than a shot for sipping.
  • Resapado means rested and this variety is aged for up to 9 months. Flavor profiles become more complex and respado makes for a good introductory sipping variety. Expect a clean, sharp taste with a subtle peppery finish.
  • Aňejo. This aged variety, conditioned in oak barrels for up to 1 year, is very smooth and sweet. Many people enjoy this variety as an aperitif, or even an after dinner drink. Certain brands of aňejo represent a very good value, especially considering the amount of nuanced flavors created by each distilleries' aging techniques.
  • Extra Aňejo, or vintage, is a relatively new variety. This is aged for 3 years, often using other types of barrels aside from the traditional oak ones. This is best sipped neat. Extra Aňejo has boosted the craft tequila market in Mexico.


  • Mezcal can sometimes be as high as 60% alcohol, so enjoy this drink with caution! Mezcal is made from 1 of around 20 different species of agave, some of which can take decades to mature. Only once will a mature agave sprout the flower whose sap is fermented to make this potent potion. Some varieties include:
  • Minero is distilled in clay pots and is a very high quality variety. Subtly smoky in flavor and very smooth.
  • Arroqueňo tends to be a subtly sweet-tasting Mezcal. Many find this to be the most pleasant variety. The flavor begins a bit bitter but quickly finishes sweet and warm.
  • Joven means young, and this variety is simply unaged and therefore a little bit rough.
  • Tobalá is named for an actual variety of agave plant, grown in mountainous regions.


Pulque has been enjoyed since well before the Spanish conquest of Mexico but has enjoyed a resurgence in the last decade, especially among the hip crowd. Pulque is simply the fermented sap of the maguey plant. The end result is a very thick, cloudy drink with a slightly acidic taste. This viscous liquid is often given artificial fruit flavoring to improve it's overall uninspiring taste, however many pulque drinkers are purists when it comes to quaffing this strange alcoholic beverage. In Mexico, pulquerias - bars exclusively serving pulque - offer a real authentic drinking experience and many feature roving musicians ready to play a tune for the merry patrons. Pulque has an alcoholic content between 4% and 6%.

Other Drinks

  • Chamoyada is a sweet and spicy type of shaved ice, or raspado or Mango sorbet, prepared with chamoy. It is a part of Mexican cuisine, and is also common in regions of the United States with significant Mexican-American populations. The drink is usually sweetened with mangoes or apricots. It is essentially a combination of chamoy sauce, shaved ice, chili powder, and fruit chunks. In certain variations, a whole fruit popsicle, or paleta, is added to the drink and mixed with the shaved ice. The drinking straws served with chamoyadas also often have tamarind candy on the outside. Chamoyadas do not contain any dairy products. The different flavors of chamoyadas can include fruits like mango, lemon, guava, tamarind, pineapple and strawberry.
  • Champuraddo is a warm and thick chocolate-based drink, prepared with either masa de maíz (lime-treated-corn dough), masa harina (a dried version of this dough), or corn flour (simply very finely ground dried corn, especially local varieties grown for atole); piloncillo; water or milk; and occasionally containing cinnamon, anise seed, or vanilla. Ground nuts, orange zest, and egg can also be employed to thicken and enrich the drink. Atole drinks are whipped up using a wooden whisk called a molinillo (or a blender). The whisk is rolled between the palms of the hands, then moved back and forth in the mixture until it is aerated and frothy.
  • Liquados are a Latin American handmade blended beverage similar to smoothies, made with milk, fruit, and usually ice.They are also sometimes called "preparados" (meaning "prepared"). Licuados and other fresh fruit juice drinks are ubiquitous throughout Mexico. They are sold by street vendors, and in special licuado shops, restaurants, and fruterias (restaurants specializing in fresh fruit).
  • Aguas Frescas, (Spanish for "cool waters", or literally "fresh waters") are light non-alcoholic beverages made from one or more fruits, cereals, flowers, or seeds blended with sugar and water. Some of the more common flavors include tamarind, hibiscus, and horchata. Aguas frescas are sold by street vendors, but can also be found in bodegas (convenience stores), restaurants and juice bars.
  • Atole, also known as atol and atol de elote, is a traditional hot corn and masa-based beverage of Mesoamerican origin. Chocolate atole is known as champurrado or atole. It typically accompanies tamales, and is very popular during the Christmas holiday season (las Posadas).
  • Café de olla is a traditional Mexican coffee beverage. To prepare café de olla, it is essential to use a traditional earthen clay pot, as this gives a special flavor to the coffee. This type of coffee is principally consumed in cold climates and in rural areas. In Mexico, café de olla is made with ground coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo (known as panela in other countries).
  • Jarritos is a popular brand of soft drink in Mexico, founded in 1950. Jarritos is made in fruit flavors and is less carbonated than popular soft drinks made in the United States or Canada. Many Jarritos varieties are naturally flavored. The word jarrito means "little jug" in Spanish and refers to the Mexican tradition of drinking water and other drinks in clay pottery jugs. Produced in Mexico, they are sold throughout the Americas.




As is typical with all of Mexico, accommodation options in Jalisco run from budget hotels and hostels to fancier lodges and resorts. Every city and town caters to the traveler as many people traverse the country by bus and often find themselves staying overnight along the way, especially on long-haul routes. Because of this, many hotels can be found around bus stations and in small towns those accommodation options will extend well beyond the transportation terminal. You will find an accommodation type to suit any budget in Jalisco.

Many hotels in Mexico (and Jalisco) list their prices at the front desk and haggling for a reduced rate for a stay of a few days or more is acceptable. Many hostels have become more expensive than hotels, especially for a couple traveling together. It is very common to find clean, safe, comfortable and centrally located hotels for 200 pesos. Wi Fi is almost always available at these hotels and sometimes cable television and air conditioning are included. Prices for these same types of hotels are at least double on the Baja Peninsula. It is also acceptable to ask to see a room before paying. Ask to see another room if the one shown to you doesn't suit you. Street noise is a problem in Mexico (and Jalisco is no exception); rooms facing the road can be very loud. Ask for an internal-facing room if possible. Hot water is often an issue in Mexico and may only be available during certain hours.


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This is version 15. Last edited at 14:23 on Jul 7, 19 by road to roam. 35 articles link to this page.

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